Topeak Pannier Drybag DX review

Robust and roomy pannier that should stand the test of time.

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(Image credit: Emma Silversides)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

What this pannier might lack in practical features - such as internal pockets - it makes up for in capacity and robustness. It's a cavernous bag that will suit anyone with bulky loads, though it's sheer depth might not suit everyones' set-up. It's as easy as any other pannier to get on and off a rack. Thanks to a well-designed carry handle, it's much more comfy to carry by hand than most.

For
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    Robust

  • +

    Durable

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    Roomy

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    Decent carry handle

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    Bright colour option

Against
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    Might be too deep for some

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    No included shoulder strap

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    No internal pockets

Topeak’s reputation for high quality, durable accessories is well-justified if their Pannier Drybag DX is anything to go by. At a quick glance, you might think it’s not so dissimilar to Ortlieb’s Back Roller Classic, it certainly feels and looks just as robust. But there are some significant differences that set it apart.

Construction and capacity

The pannier’s main body is a combination of 420 and 840 denier nylon waterproof fabric, seams are sonically welded. I've had the pannier out in some foul conditions and contents are 100% protected from all the elements.

Velcro is combined with a water-tight roll-top closure, secured with lateral buckles. You are forced to make two rolls; the buckles have a curved profile so only engage one way, the handle prevents further rolls.

The pannier is compatible with most pannier racks (ø 8/10/12 mm, spacers supplied) and attaches with an adjustable hook and lock system, plus an adjustable lower arm.

A padded, centrally positioned carry handle, in combination with 'QuickClick' one touch quick release, is used to lift the pannier off the rack.

The rear is reinforced and a textured panel has been added to the lower half, where the pannier might rub against a rack. Stiff side panels protect contents and help the pannier hold its shape. They are removable.

Two colour options cater for preferences on either end of the scale - bright yellow and black. There are bold, reflective prints on the front and smaller logos on the sides. 

The pannier tips the scales at 1400g. Topeak suggest a maximum 12.5kg load, with a 25 litre capacity.

If Mary Poppins owned a pannier, it would likely be Topeak’s Drybag DX; it’s the deepest pannier I have ever come across. It’s a massive 48cm high, and that’s closed. It’s gently tapered from top (30cm) to bottom (28cm) and sits 18cm proud of any rack. Open up the bag and you’ll be reaching 65cm to the bottom of it. 

The 25 litre capacity will definitely appeal some; it allows for plenty of bulky items. Anyone who likes to commute with kit for a lunchtime run or workout, shower and hefty refuel will be happy. Tourers with plenty of kit, or anyone carrying extra for a reluctant companion will like it too. While the bag is pretty rigid- a great feature for tablets or laptops - the side panels can be removed, making it more accommodating and malleable.

There are no internal pockets or pouches. I wouldn’t miss this in a touring scenario. For general use I’d prefer to have at least one pouch to hold valuables and essentials for direct access; in a pannier this big, things easily move about while you’re riding, recovering items isn’t always easy.

Mounting and carrying

Like many panniers, the Drybag DX will fit most racks. I’ve had it on a variety, all without issue. The hooks aren’t quick release, plastic affairs - they are metal. I often get away without using adapters for many quick release style hooks, however, if you don’t use the supplied spacers with the Drybag DX, you’ll have to live with the constant rattle of metal against metal - very annoying and also not great for either piece of kit. The spacers take a bit of brut force to install, but it's worth it; a snug fit with zero rattling.

The hooks’ positions can be adjusted using a 3mm Allen key, as can the lower arm, though this is fixed in a horizontal position. I personally prefer this lower arm to be adjustable in all directions, it makes life easier getting the pannier on and off certain racks.

Quick release hooks are frequently the two main attachment points, Topeak has used a centrally positioned quick release system instead. It’s effective, but not without niggles; it dictates where the pannier can sit on some racks. Topeak’s own Super Uni Tourist rack is a good example of this; it has a central, vertical rail which the ‘balls’ of the quick release need to avoid.

The pannier’s length is also an influencing factor in mounting. I’ve had to push it further back on some of my bikes to avoid heel brushing. This will depend on your bike and rack set-up.

Getting the bag off the rack is a two handed job; press the QR and lift the bag simultaneously. Okay, it's just about possible with one, and some patience - thumb pressing and hand lifting. In short, I didn't find it as convenient as a pull-activated quick release. However, I did think that the carry handle made up for the extra faff; it’s a very well-designed handle and makes carrying the bag enjoyable, well, enjoyable relative to other panniers! Considered width and a spongy, soft cover ensure it doesn’t dig into your hand. It’s a good job this is the case; there is no shoulder strap included with the pannier and you can’t buy one separately either. Since the buckles used for the closure have a curved profile, it could be difficult to source a compatible option.

Value

Just like Altura’s Thunderstorm City 20 Pannier (opens in new tab), Topeak’s Drybag DX can’t be pigeon-holed as commuting kit. If it’s capacity you want over anything else, such as internal pockets or a shoulder strap, then this is certainly the perfect ‘buy once, buy to last’ bit of kit; it’s robust, well-made and will be difficult to beat on the capacity front. The £94.99 RRP actually falls in line with Altura’s £100 Thunderstorm City 20. If you are buying with the intention of touring, so needing two, it’ll be a hefty investment though. By comparison Ortlieb's Back-Roller Classic (opens in new tab) cost £135 for a pair and Vaude’s Aqua Back Pannier (opens in new tab) £130 a pair.

Specifications

  • Capacity: 25 L / 1525 ci (per piece)
  • Compartment: One main compartment
  • Material: 420 denier / 840 denier nylon waterproof fabric sonically welded seams
  • Max Load: 12.5 kg / 27.5 lb
  • Added Features: Roll-top closure, Reflective printing, Automatic lock slidable hooks for exact positioning, Press & pull for quick release, Carrying handle
  • Bag Attachment: QuickClick® / Hook and lock system, Fits racks ø 8 / 10 / 12 mm
  • Size: 65 x 30/28 x 18 cm / 25.6” x 11.8”/11” x 7.11” (Open)
  • Weight: 1400 g / 3.09 lb (Per Piece)
  • Colours: Yellow. Black

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